All Hallow’s Etiquette

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Photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash

Hallow’s Etiquette

There is just nothing
remarkable about a
Hallow’s witching hour,

where absence of light and sound
pile upon one another

until the deprived
senses conjure demons, ghosts,
and apparitions of distress

manifested in the failures
of our memories, or
their perfectly successful manner

of projecting memories
of our failures back upon us
like a house of haunted mirrors.

That ghoul is not a ghoul;
it is an eye-floater
casting a shadow upon
your retina

that became entangled
with a stray set of neurons
where an unresolved
disagreement with

your long-dead beloved
continues to take up
residence; our evolved
pattern-recognition

makes us see their sunken cheeks
and disapproving glare, and
nothing more than that.

At the very least,
that is what I tell myself
to keep my heart from racing

and my unspoken words
from spilling into this dense,
uncaring,
unremarkable space
at this ungodly hour,

where no one replies
to my wailing demands for reason,
and for good reason,
as no one is here
to hear them.

But in the extremely
unlikely event
that I’m wrong about this,

all of these reasonable
observations,
which I’m mostly certain
is extremely improbable,

if they truly exist
between our realms,

my first thought would be
probably
that demons, ghosts, ghouls,
and all the like,

in addition to being
needlessly frightening,

in all these years of
ignoring my queries

they’re also extremely rude.
***

Inspired by All Hallow’s Eve and Poets United: Midweek Motif ~ A Million Years Howl When Voices Whisper Among The Trees, hosted by  Sanaa Rizvi.

Also shared at dVerse OLN: Casting a Spell, hosted by Linda Lee Lyberg.

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

On Grudges and Conservation of Energy

Holding grudges is a young man’s game.

Grasp that lightning if you must;
harvest it, gorge yourself upon it,
repurpose it to power your safe haven,
getaway vehicle, or doomsday device,

whichever you choose;
I’m not qualified to judge.

Ask my mother.
She knows. She knew

way back when I was 16 years old
that I wasn’t shit

and my grudge-fueled quest
to prove her wrong succeeded
at proving her both absolutely wrong
and unequivocally right like an
accidental Schrodinger’s cat experiment.

Inability to forgive
converted my potential into kinetic,
driving my momentum
into achievements I never imagined for myself,

and it also left me lifeless,
dead-eyed,
inside an unremarkable box,
waiting to be discovered by wiser forces.

Forgiveness is for old folks
who no longer have the energy for grudges;

many of whom are gathering
their remaining momentum
in a last-ditch effort of
getting into heaven.

Suddenly
the meaning of The Lord’s Prayer
crystallizes before them,
and they’re angling for a slice of salvation pie.

I don’t know much about forgiveness,
but I do know how it feels to run out of steam,
finding myself alone with regret. Nowadays,

I find both grudges and forgiveness
equally inert.

All that matters now lie within
taking accurate readings
and observing what is.
***

Inspired by Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Forgiveness, hosted by Sumana Roy.

Missing, Presumed Lost

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By SpaceX – Falcon Heavy Demo Mission, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66235869

Missing, Presumed Lost

Floating behind me,
a sea of blue, an immense sphere
comprising all that I know,
adore and despise,
breathe and asphyxiate,
drink and drown.

Ahead, you glisten, in quiet peril
reflecting light, juxtaposed in endless black,
after reporting a problem, drifting away,
brave smile in your voice
unintelligible
at this growing distance.

“You’re too late,” you said,
while still in range,
the warmth in your voice
transcending the void,
inexplicably soothing
my chilly fingers
and frosty extremities.

“Oh shit,” I said,
profanely breaking protocol
as the aspect of you
slowly shrank to a point of light.

“I’m sorry,” I offered to the magnets
within the transmitter mic,
a vain effort to overrule
our physical plane.

“It’s ok,” you said tenderly,
reassuring neither of us,
us both ignoring the
depleting oxygen alarms.

“I’m on to my next waypoint.
We’ll have to rendezvous
at the next target window,”
you declare as if our time were not
fleeting, finite,
our fates fixed.

You disappeared beyond the thin blue line,
leaving me to contend with the enormity
of the pale blue light and
an hour of radio silence,
floating above our northern hemisphere,
tilting away, towards winter.

“You free?” your voice vibrated
into my anxious receiver
after a maddeningly long silence
as your glimmer emerged
from the far-side,
rising to rival Venus-glow
and moondust.

“Yes,” I replied quickly,
maneuvering towards a
rendezvous altitude.
“I’m listening. I’m here.”

Then everything went null,
no heat, no cold,
not even light or shadow or grey,
leaving us clasping onto nothing.
***

Shared at Poetry Pantry #496

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

The Real Truth (Or Why Nobody Asks Me to Deliver Toasts at Weddings or Family Feasts)

And what
do any of you
know of Truth?

None of you would know it
not even if it rose in the east,
set in the west,

and pelted you with harmful UV rays
as you lean into his warmth,
grinning like a slow-cooked idiot.

Slowly he rises,
bringing light, warmth,
and terminal cancer,

the indifferent promise
of life and death.

We’ll sing in praise of the former
screening the latter
with sweetly scented chemicals
that lead to a sweeter-scented
terminal cancer.

Life, like the sun
which nourishes and imperils us,
is a massively limited,
egregiously finite
string of things that don’t matter,

and the only constant is
its inevitable return to the lifeless void;

this inevitability is not to be
praised nor condemned, for
to try is to embrace the lie,

not that it matters how infinity is received,
for it will be visited upon you inevitably
and nothing you leave behind,

not even progeny, not even monuments,
not even this truthful tribute will matter,
for none of it will outlast the inevitability.

Life is a lie, death is the Truth,
and I know of no one, good or evil,
who has faced this Truth
with grace and equanimity
who has ever lived to tell the tale.

Now stop wasting everyone’s time
and let us enjoy this bountiful harvest
grown in the light of Truth.
***

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Truth (in honor of Gandhi’s birthday), posted by Susan.

Garden Rival

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A Steller’s jay. Photo by Michael Anfang on Unsplash

Garden Rival

I called to the Steller’s jay
rooting for seeds in my shabby garden,
but he didn’t answer; he

just kept flittering hither and thither,
loudly shacking his territory with
a harsh “SHACK-Sheck-sheck-sheck-sheck!”

sifting the choicest bits
ahead of the luckless wrens and finches.

I didn’t think he was listening,
but I couldn’t help myself.

I asked him if it was true
that in order to love another,
you must love yourself first,

for I observed that I’ve loved some
like my life was forfeit, and yet others
forced love from lungs in violent spasms,

spilling onto pages and surfaces,
surging to fill every crevice and valley.

I’ve loved tenderly and scandalously,
I’ve loved dutifully and illicitly,

I’ve withheld from others
and denied myself the respite

and believed fatted luxurious lies in real-time
to preserve rotted acorns of truths long gone,

often hating both who I was, am,
and whatever I have become,

and so I asked him, am I doing it right?

I didn’t wait for his answer,
because he’s just a dumb, greedy bird
hording the good seeds for himself.

The Steller’s jay stopped flittering,
made a loud “skreeka!”
looked me in the eye

and said, “That’s the stupidest thing
I ever heard! Love don’t work that way!
Maybe you’re just too dumb for love!”

I read somewhere that Steller’s jays
often mimic birds of prey
to fool rivals into hiding.
***

Originally shared on Medium.

Also shared on Poetry Pantry #495.

Red Spider Lilly

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Image by Lee_seonghak from Pixabay

Red Spider Lilly

If I had known that would be
the last time our lips met,
we would never forget;
I would have held our kiss longer.

If I had known I would breathe
the last of your scent,
I would have inhaled your ferment
till my lungs fell from hunger.

A thunderstorm rages tonight
on the border of day and night,
of summer and autumn,
erasing our space.

If I knew the lines between us that merged
would forever diverge,
I would have dissolved them
within your embrace.

And if you were here now,
if you appeared now,
we would sit near and allow
the storm to pass, unbeknown

But you’re a memory;
red spider lilies will bloom
anew from this autumn storm;
you walk a distant shore alone.

If I had known that would be
our last time within our lifetimes,
I swear I would have said
something more clever.

If I had known
with a kiss before parting,
I would have shared something better than
“prepare for the weather”.

A thunderstorm rages tonight
within our twilight;
hope you’ve prepared for the weather.

You are a memory;
red spider lilies have bloomed, renewed
in the space that was once me and you.
***

Originally shared on Medium.

Shared on Poets United Pantry of Poetry and Prose, 2

From culture trip: Hanakotoba: The Secret Meanings Behind 9 Flowers in Japan:

“Red spider lilies are bright summer flowers native throughout Asia. They are associated with final goodbyes, and legend has it that these flowers grow wherever people part ways for good. In old Buddhist writings, the red spider lily is said to guide the dead through samsara, the cycle of rebirth. Red spider lilies are often used for funerals, but they are also used decoratively with no such connotations.”

Incapable of Her Own Distress

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Photo by averie woodard on Unsplash

Incapable of Her Own Distress

She was beautiful
and needed to be seen as thus,

climbing higher,
her angelic features giving
a false appearance of
a fallen messenger clawing her
way back into paradise with

mud-caked fingers weaving
flowered trinkets,

an accumulation
of bruises
piled upon her well-worn
lust-slickened flesh, and

a wickedly zealous glare
affixed on something
beyond common sight,

not recalling how
she got so high
upon the precarious bough,

the wind spitting sleet into her face, she,
returning the favor, choking
on bile from her own spite
and other vulgarities

wailed in her song of
want and lunacy,

laughing mournfully
under pale lunar glow,

so when she fell
no one could tell
her fantastic mania
from her sunken plight.

She was beautiful
even then, at the end,

a siren swooned, felled
by her own song,

seeing in greater clarity
from the under-side of
the rain-drowned brook, buoyant
no more, unlike the flowers
scattered from her lifeless hands,

her peace-glazed eyes
silently affixed on heaven.
***

Originally shared on Medium

Also shared on Poets United  POETRY PANTRY #491.

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

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Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

She Would’ve Spun a Splendiferous Anime from This

“What are you doing here?” she asked, pulling away.

“Just holding you,” I murmured drowsily, gently pulling her close.

“This is inappropriate,” she protested, squinting. “And what’s with that light?”

“This is only gratitude,” I replied. “Nothing more.”

“Gratitude?” she scoffed. “I don’t even know you.”

“I know,” I said. “And I don’t know you, but thanks to you, I know a thousand words for the color blue, and so I dreamt I was the moon creeping into your window, spooning you, comforting you with borrowed glow of yesterday and tomorrow, coiling your secrets into the crux of my crescent, never to see daylight again.”

“Oh,” she said. “You doing this for all of us?”

“Yes,” I said. “Now shh!”

And after a pregnant silence, she said, “You know we’re all gone now, right?”

“Yes,” I whispered through tears.

“But take this with you.”
***

#HelpKyoaniHeal

This is a tribute to the victims, survivors, and families of the Kyoto Animation Studio arson/mass-murder that claimed the lives of 34 innocent and brilliant artists. I don’t have any more words to convey my grief and sorrow, but if, like me, you ache to flood the void caused by this act of hate with acts of love, contribute to the GoFundMe setup by Sentai Filmworks. Other ways to help can be found here.

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Written for dVerse Prosery #2, hosted by sarahsouthwest. Others contributed to this prompt here.

Also shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry #488.

#HelpKyoaniHeal

Love, for Love’s Sake

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Photo by Charlie Hang on Unsplash

Love, for Love’s Sake

I have loved romantically
while being oblivious to its depths,
confined to the surface,
grasping at facades of
who I wanted to be
and who I wanted to
completely consume me,
growing mystified by
its brittleness
and inevitable indigestion.

I have loved, by sticking my head
inside an alligator’s mouth on a dare.

I have loved the greener grass
and the path untraveled
until detours revealed illusory scope
and textures tricking optics
into grasping curves
bent into ripened shapes
by light’s deception; I have loved
but a figment of her living ghost.

I have loved an imagination
and watched it slain by her reality.

I have loved deep
into the core elements of another
swiftly and inexplicably,
with the instant shock
of total immersion into
freezing waters,
slowing until bonds arrest us
in an exquisite insanity,
tricking the brain
into seeing love and attachment
as one and the same,
which renders all into ashes.

I have loved at first sight
and it seared my retinas.

I have loved
despite my best efforts not to love,
which, in essence, means that I have failed
at both loving and not loving
nearly simultaneously.

I believe therefore
we call it “falling in love”,
for no sane person
would willingly choose
this brand of nonsense,
steering directly into it
as one who wishes to be warm
plots a course directly into the sun.

I have loved over time against my will
and it was wonderfully traumatic.

I’ve flipped
the game
on its head
countless times;

each time,
my game piece
lands inside
the gator’s mouth.

I now love, knowing
its tremendous highs and incalculable lows,
the capricious nature of reciprocation
and whimsically fickle access to action
to fully experience and share,
fully aware that I wield little power
over the gambit,
only my position on the board
of an ultimately unsolvable game.

I now love with a full heart, knowing
that though I often experience bliss
and wield love to lift her
to fleeting triumphs with me,
ultimately I can never win,
and even as we run out of moves,
as we retire or surrender to fate
and, inevitably, as we
begin to lose each other,
the game will continue.

I now love,
not as a matter of choice or dare,
not with purpose nor design on winning;

I now love without purpose
because I see little purpose in not loving,
and also, aimless, purposeless love
is just love for love’s sake.

I now love that I love.
***

Shared at Poets United Poetry Pantry #442.

Winter’s Breathing Lesson

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My driveway, about a winter ago. Perhaps two winters ago?

Winter’s Breathing Lesson

wolves thrive in winter
a matter of attrition
as their prey weakens

though her canines are not fanged
her biting air stirs my lungs

this winter is tamed
El Nino tempers her howl
flurries become rain

I’m steeled for a land of white
the mist still chills our pack’s trail

weather-guessers clash
none know what tomorrow brings
I embrace the void

cooler, darker than last moon’s
I keep my howls to myself
***

Written for Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Winter, Posted by Sumana Roy.

NOAA predicts a warm, wet winter for the Seattle area this time (so no snow days), but Farmer’s Almanac says batten down the hatches for unseasonably cold weather.

I was going to write a satire about the two conflicting predictions from the dual weather sages, but mindful presence moved me in a different direction. 

I haven’t looked at the data for myself, but meh, I’m genuinely good with either outcome. 🙂

And because I love BOTH versions…